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MAY 30, 2021 - SEP 19, 2021

Steel Magnolias showcases the work of six contemporary female artists from Mississippi and Louisiana working in metal. The works included in this exhibition range in material, size, and style displaying the rich diversity of female metal workers in the South. These six artists explore the physical properties of metal as a medium as well as the ways that the material can be used expressively. This exhibition seeks to disrupt the narrative of traditional metalsmithing through the display of the vibrant work created by these contemporary female artists.


Erica Larkin Gaudet

A sculptor who primarily uses metal as her material. She has been welding and fabricating sculptural work for both private and public clients for over 30 years. After receiving her BA from Loyola University in Sculpture in 1991, she founded her studio specializing in sculpture and custom furniture. Larkin Gaudet’s sculptural focus explores the abstraction of the figurative form in movement through varying lines and the creation of positive and negative spaces, symbolizing womanhood, harmony and compositional balance.

Larkin Gaudet's sculptures have been included in public art exhibits such as The Sculpture for New Orleans Poydras Corridor Public Art, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Public Art, Louisiana Presbytere Museum, Downtown St. Joseph, MO SculptureWalk, Scope Basel, Switzerland, Hibernian Sculpture Park, Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

Larkin Gaudet and her glass artist husband, Mitchell Gaudet, have also led the development of two neighborhood arts revitalization, created and managed artists spaces and established two art galleries, Studio Waveland Gallery & Studio Inferno Gallery.

Jennifer Odem

A New Orleans-based multi-media artist with a specific focus on investigations in sculpture and drawing. Odem's artwork address issues of transience and permanence, hand-crafted versus industrial, fragility and strength. Her sculptures specifically reference issues of gender through her choice of materials, which texturally look fragile, but are in fact strong, rigid objects. Jennifer Odem has exhibited and performed residencies throughout the United States and abroad. Odem's most recent exhibition was at Prospect.4 New Orleans, the 2017 Triennial, for which she was commissioned to create the site-specific Rising Tables, three towers of used household tables, on the banks of the Mississippi River.


Jennifer Torres

Born in Queens, NY, she did her first four years of studio training as a teenager at the Art Students League in New York City and then earned her BFA at the Cooper Union, also in NYC. Her focus was steel fabrication, casting, woodworking and photography. After graduating from Cooper she trained as a fine cabinetmaker in New England, learning important skills that she still utilizes today. After traveling around the United States for a few years including working at lumber mill in Oregon she moved back east to get her MFA in Sculpture at the University of Georgia in Athens.


Ms. Torres has lived in Hattiesburg, MS for 21 years where she has her studio and teaches sculpture as a tenured professor at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. She has had many exhibits of her sculptures and installations around the country and has won a number of awards and commissions. Ms. Torres received a highly competitive 2020 MS Visual Arts Fellowship and was chosen as Creative Researcher of the Year at USM’s College of Arts and Letters. Currently she is working on a big commission of new Garden Boats similar to those currently in Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.


Kelsey Wishik


A multi-media artist from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, that currently lives and works in Southeastern US. She received her BFA with an emphasis in sculpture from the University of South Mississippi in 2014 and her MFA from the University of Georgia earlier this year. Kelsey has lectured, hosted workshops, and participated in group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including the National Museum for Women in the Arts. Her diverse practice explores themes of consciousness, identity, interdependence, travel, transformation, micro and macrocosmic relationships, nature, and spirituality.  


Mia Kaplan


A painter and sculptor located in Southeast Louisiana. She earned a degree in Drawing and Printmaking from the Memphis College of Art, and has had her work included in many publications: Artforum, Food & Wine, Fitness Magazine, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, Country Roads Magazine, Modern Farmer, The Louisiana Review, and more.

She exhibits nationally in galleries, museums, and public places. Her work is driven by an interest in transformational qualities and patterns found in nature as told through her personal process of documenting life in the marshes and swamps of her hometown, and through sculptural abstraction of natural borders, landscapes, wildflowers, and refuges.

Sheleen Jones


A sculptor and portrait painter born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is an art professor at Xavier University of New Orleans and President of the New Orleans Chapter of the National Conference of Artists. Presently she is exhibiting artwork at Louisiana State Museum the “Mystics in Motion” Exhibition entitled A Tribute to Black Masking in New Orleans. Sheleen developed her skills at Xavier University and Florida State University. Her works are comprised of materials bronze, aluminum, glass, resin, and concrete. Known for public figurative sculptures, many of her public exhibitions have depicted Americans of African descent, such as pioneers of civil rights and cultural ambassadors. Her public art career started in 1987 with the Honorable A.P. Tureaud Sr., an attorney who fought to make discrimination illegal. Her latest public sculpture is displayed at the New Orleans East Hospital entitled The Healing Tree made in recognition of Hurricane Katrina survivors. Sheleen has balanced a full teaching career and family life while keeping the flame burning in the studio.

Exhibition sponsored by
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